INT: Sara Paxton
It was THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT that first introduced me to the lovely Sara Paxton. So when I looked back at her career, I was shocked at how much she had done. Hell, she even recorded a few pop songs. And starting at the age of six, she is certainly no stranger to the business. But up until now, her roles were nothing like Mari Collingwood in LAST HOUSE. Weíre talking AQUAMARINE and SLEEPOVER folks. But she is moving into more adult roles quite nicely if Last House is any indication.
When I got a chance to talk with her over the phone, I had a terrific time speaking about her latest foray into the horror genre. We chatted about the original film, and about the Hollywood obsession with remakes, and we also spoke about her early career in T.VÖ you know I just had to mention the Mary-Kate & Ashley X-Mas Show. But through it all, she was an absolute pleasure to talk to and she is also terrific as a young girl who faces a nightmare in her latest film. And yes, you can check it all out this coming Friday when THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT arrives at a theatre near you.
Itís been a long time, I mean Iíve been doing this for about fourteen - fifteen years now, since I was six. So it accumulates definitely.
I even found your music (sheís done a couple of pop songs which are available on ITunes)Ö
Oh my gosh, yeah. That was awhile ago.
Is that something that you still try and pursue?
Itís always been something that Iíve been interested in. I love music and Iíve played the flute for sixteen years, which isnít that cool, but itís what I do. [Laughing]
Nothing wrong with the fluteÖ [Laughing]
Yeah. Exactly! No more dissing on the flute people! But Iím learning how to play guitar and piano and all that. I just love music so anything where I could incorporate music or if that opportunity ever aroseÖ I mean, why not I say.
Absolutely, absolutely. Well with that, I wonít bug you too much about your past, I wonít even get into Mary-Kate & Ashleyís Christmas Party.
[Laughing] I remember the songs from that, the dance movesÖ everything.
Do you really?
And now you are in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Yes. Totally the same.
Yes. I was thinking, wasnít it made by Disney originally? [Laughing]
Oh yeah, totallyÖ [Laughing]
Thatís what I thought. Now in all seriousness, was there any fear on your part jumping into this film and this role? I mean, you sort of had a squeaky clean image.
Were there fears going in? This is an intense role.
I think that is why I took on the role because I wanted to challenge myself as an actor, and I wanted to show that Iím not just in this business to do fluffy, nice, fun thingsÖ which are fun, you know, I enjoy doing comedies. But I really didnít want to be put into any kind of box. I didnít want to have an image of being this person. So when this script came along, and of course I hear Wes Craven, I was instantly attached to it, I really wanted to be in the movie. It was definitely a decision on my part to kind of tear away any image of Disney or anything.
And I donít necessarily think a whole bunch of actresses would feel comfortable taking this role on. Especially American actors who kind of shy away from roles that involve rape or anything like this.
True. Definitely true. Being in a movie like this, youíre going to hear pauses and then of course youíre going to get criticized, and Iíve definitely heard a lot of criticism from women about the whole assault scene. And to me, I mean, I just really wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could do this and just grow. You know, Iím young and I feel like I want to prove myself. Of course I still have a lot to learn and I want to keep learning by working. I just think that itís a powerful movie and it really says something. I donít think that people are going to go see this movie for the scene to be sexy and thatís one of my huge concerns that I had when I took on the part. I had a meeting with Dennis [Iliadis], the director, and one of my big things was that I really didnít want the scene to be sexual in any way. I didnít want there to be a single moment where you could pause the movie and think it was appealing. It is a complete act of violence and I think that is what Dennis and I really were on the same page about.
Well he makes an interesting choice and he sometimes pulls the camera away as it moves towards the end of the scene. And I think the original was much more in-your-face, at least from what I felt, and this one held back just a little which didnít hurt the scene at all.
I completely agree with you. And in my opinion, yes there are definitely key points in the original that are not in this film, but to me, I definitely donít think that it is less intense or less brutalÖ I definitely think that, to people who have never heard of the original and the people that donít really know, are going to be shocked. I think that that really attributes to the actor and I was lucky enough to work with such talented actors and they really bring the intensity. And I think that is why there is sort of, less of the peeing the pants scene or biting off of theÖ I wonít go into detail about that, but you know what Iím talking aboutÖ
Well see, I saw the original when I was very young and I remember appreciating it more as I got older, just because as a kid, the music and the acting may seem a bit silly. But as I got older and re-watched it, and while it may not be a great movie, there is something really powerful about it. It almost makes you feel a bit dirty after viewing it.
I know what you mean. Itís like mentally, in your psycheÖ itís like I can wash, I can wash, but Iíll never be cleanÖ I mean, definitely after seeing the movie for the first time, I had no idea it was going to affect me in that way. You know, you keep thinking itís only a movie, you know, like the old trailer.
Both movies, the original and this one, I really left feeling like I needed to crawl into my bed and kind of rock back and forth [Laughing]. You know? Like hug my dog and my stuffed animals for a little bit. I definitely felt like, ĎWhat am I feeling? I am lostÖ everything that I ever thought about goodness has left my brain.í [Laughing] But thatís good, I think that is powerful and at least you leave the theatre feeling something. I love it when I leave the movie and Iím affected by it. Thatís the best kind of movie. It inspires me.
It is also meant to let you peek into part of this world we live in which is not always good.
I agree. Thatís what is so terrifying about this. Even when we were filming, there was a moment where I was really disturbed, even while filming all the stuff in the woods . Here we are in this real forest with cameras guerilla style. Hardly any people and completely soundless. And all I could do is just look up at the trees and all of a sudden I got this eerie feeling just thinking, ĎGod, somebody, somewhere, has died alone in a forest just like this.í And that just sent chills all over my body that put me in the scene immediately.
Iím sure. And the thing is, whenever you hear about this stuff in the news, you donít hear about the spunky survivor who fought back, you just hear that a body was found. Especially the first half of this story, there is just something horribly unsettling about it because it does happen.
Itís true. Itís true. Itís real. And you know, there are ghost story movies and supernatural or more slasher with blood everywhere. To me, I could relate with each character and I really think that is a testament to the actors and to Dennis, you know, with the depth of the characters. And you really get into the story and feel something because the characters have depth.
Now Iíd like to talk a little bit about the current remake craze and how there are a lot of people, if you go on-line, there are a lot of complaints about too many remakes.
You know what? I understand the stigma of the remake because Iím a huge film fan, definitely, classic films. Whenever I see something get remade I definitely get peeved about it. I keep thinking, oh, you know, you canít remakes something like this, you canít change something like that. And I definitely agree with that, I see where they are coming from, I get it. But I think people should know that we went into this process, not trying to copy an original. We know the original is what it is, and weíre not trying to copy that. You know, itís the same story but we all had such a passion about breathing new life into this story and not going page by page, and copying word for word, watching the actors and copying everything. Because we are different actors too, itíd never be the same story because weíre completely different actors and the plot has been changed a little bit. But I really want people to know, especially the hard core fans, we all put so much of our heart and soul and passion into this, just to make a good movie. It wasnít to make a better LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
I was surprised with the marketing of this particular version in that they give so much away in the trailer.
Yeah, I was too. But you know, peopleÖ I was thinking about it because I too was like, ĎOh my God! They show everything in the trailer, they show everything.í And then I talked to my friends whoíd never even heard of the original and who are not into the genre and they were like, ĎWhat do you mean, they give away everything?í You know, they were likeÖ they donít know the original story. So I think that people that donít know, to them, they donít know that it is giving away [certain aspects].
I guess it kind of becomes, to the people who are unaware, a revenge flick.
Exactly. Thatís what it makes it look like. They know the parents try and get revenge, theyíve no idea of all the stuff that happens beforehand.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.